Daisy Jackson has worked the small, cut-rate liquor store she owns at Eager Street and North Broadway since 1975.
But all week, the 74-year-old was clearing out nearly a lifetime of memories at D and A Liquors as she prepares to vacate the red-brick row house decorated with brown paneling, wood shelves, bulletproof Plexiglas and posters for beer and alcoholic beverages.
She is planning to retire after going to settlement with East Baltimore Development Inc. Friday, selling the store and the small row house next door — valued at a total of $70,200, according to city property tax records — for $250,000.
“It was a price I couldn’t refuse,” Jackson said, adding that EBDI’s relocation of more than 1,300 households nearby on 88 acres in Middle East had reduced her business drastically over the past several years.
“I needed money to keep going,” she said of her efforts to get a renovation loan from EBDI for the liquor store. “This place is a gold mine. But nobody could finance it.”
Christopher Shea, CEO of EBDI, did not return calls to comment on the purchase of D and A Liquors and why the nonprofit bought the property, which is not inside the $1.8 billion redevelopment’s footprint.
Jackson said she has heard that EBDI plans to renovate the building and open it as a community security station.
Across the street and behind the store, new residences have opened for senior citizens and urban pioneers. It is among the first housing in the redevelopment by EBDI, which has committed and spent $564 million so far, $212.6 million of that in public funds.
Plans as recent as 2008 said there would be 599 houses completed or under construction by now, but only 220 units, most of them rental apartments, are done. The Townes at Eager, five modern condominium units directly behind the store, across an alley, have experienced slow sales — only two have been sold. The remaining units list for as much as $320,000.
Jackson said Shea has told her EBDI wanted to purchase the liquor store to “clean this corner up.” Along with the property, she added, EBDI purchased her liquor license.
“In the heyday, business was out of sight,” she said of the store, which opened at 6 a.m. and closed at midnight.
“This was one of the busiest corners,” she said. “When people got out of jail, they came to this corner. When people got out of the hospital, they came to this corner. There is a bus stop here … you had traffic from everywhere in the city.”
She said the EBDI relocation of Middle East residents through eminent domain, and the recession, have curtailed business at her store. She recently decided to sell after she couldn’t get a loan to renovate and instead made an offer to EBDI to buy her out.
“I told the City Council I wanted to stay after everybody else moved,” she said. “I was waiting for them [EBDI] to start housing on McDonough Street, but I guess they are waiting for the economy.
“They got a lot to do,” she added, speaking of the redevelopment. “Somebody says it will be around 10-15 years before they straighten it out. I think they really realize it now that it wasn’t an easy task at all.”
Jackson, who was raised in the 1600 block of Ashland Avenue, said she has witnessed a lot of change in the Middle East community, especially as a shop owner.
“I been here and I been through hell in this area with all of the drugs, killing, drinking,” she said.
“I’ve been robbed and broken into,” she added, pointing to the wall of 1003 N. Broadway that intruders broke through in the 1990s to steal the safe in the store, at 1001 N. Broadway. That’s why she purchased the building next door, she said — for added security.
“At one time, this was one of the prettiest areas you ever seen, with trees and benches out on the streets,” she said.
Jackson said she worked at D and A Liquors with her sister-in-law, Barbara Ann Jackson, and had help from her daughter and son-in-law, Kim and Johnny Jones. She said she was helped by close friend Wayne Easter, whose Morgan State tuition she helped to pay. The memories of their time together came flooding back as she cleaned out the building this week.
Denise Davis, a longtime customer, stopped by Tuesday to offer a sad goodbye.
“Miss Daisy — I love her and am going to miss her,” Davis said. “It’s so shocking. The community is going off the hook. Miss Daisy is the bomb.”